The Forgotten Exodus

The University of Miami’s Department of Religious Studies is partnering with Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Sephardi Voices United Kingdom to interview the Middle Eastern and North African Jews who have resettled all over the world. University of Miami professor Henry Green is leading the international effort task to assemble oral histories from Sephardi Jews who fled North Africa, the Middle East, and Iran after World War II.

Green calls it the “forgotten exodus.”  “If we don’t capture their stories, there will not be witnesses and their memories will be lost, ” he said. Many Sephardi Jews interviewed for the UM project described mob attacks, beatings random violence, discrimination and harsh government measures that began in the late 1940s. Green said he is determined to interview as many people as possible to make sure these graphic memories are remembered. Many survivors are in their 70s and even 80s.

As part of Professor Green’s fall 2010 Senior Seminar course, Religion 408, students had the opportunity to contribute to all aspects of this project. Students enrolled in the course were trained on interview etiquette for several hours before conducting the nine interviews that have taken place so far in Miami. Graduate students from the School of Communication were hired to film and assist with post-production. Green hopes to conducted approximately 50 more interviews in the Miami area with continued student involvement.

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